How do you make hard data into something personal? Reams of transactional records can seem like a cold and detached way to get to know your customers. But, analyzed over time, the dollars and interactions add up to reveal patterns in behavior which can be used to construct personas reflecting real people, their defining traits, and the value they represent. Who is your typical customer versus the most likely big spender, and what makes them different?
Making data personal is, well, a personal passion of mine. As a former quantitative researcher studying linguistics, I spent my time taking measurements of speech data and building statistical models at a computer terminal. What made this endeavor a social science was revealing stories of how social and geographic groups of people subconsciously construct identities through the measurable nuances in their speech.
It may come as no surprise to marketers of consumer packaged goods that there’s a whole field of research dedicated to studying perceptions of the sounds and shapes of products—the crispy crunch of a chip and “ktsch-h-h-h-h-h” of an aerosol underarm spray. How do you feel when you hear the fizzy (or flat?) crack of a can of soda? Does a yellower hue of a can of 7UP lead you to experience a more lemony flavor?
A recent article in The New Yorker, “Accounting for Taste, dishes the details of this highly scientific enterprise into how curved shapes augment consumer perception of sweetness and other “sensation transferences,” as marketers call them. The goal in all of this is to help producers benefit from multi-sensory perception of products—from their color, the shape of their packaging, the sounds they emit, and the feelings (touch and emotional) they give us—in order to evoke an appealing impression of the brand.